By Jefferson Siegel, Juliet Linderman and Patrick Hedlund
MANHATTAN CRIMINAL COURT — A teacher’s aide accused of sexually abusing a special-ed student at an Upper West Side elementary school was not charged Thursday night after fellow educators and his students told police the claims were false, his lawyer said.
Hany Abdalla, 35, a paraprofessional at P.S. 84 The Lillian Weber School for the Arts on West 92nd Street, was arrested Wednesday after allegedly making a sexually charged remark to a female student, police and the Department of Education said.
The charges were later updated to include an allegation of inappropriate touching, a department spokeswoman added.
Abdalla was held in custody until Thursday night, but he didn't even appear before a judge at Manhattan Criminal Court on earlier charges of sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child. His colleagues and students refuted the allegations and prosecutors declined to pursue charges Thursday, his lawyer said.
"The [accusing] student's account was contradicted by teachers and other students in the classroom," Abdalla’s attorney, Virginia A. LoPreto, said outside the courtroom.
Abdalla was suspended from his job on Monday after the allegations surfaced.
The Manhattan District Attorney's office declined to comment on the case, saying it would continue to investigate the matter.
"We have deferred any decision to prosecute until we complete our investigation," a spokesperson said.
LoPreto explained that her client was working in a class that normally had one teacher’s aide to every 12 students, but that the class had one aide per student on the day he was accused of the abuse. There were also four other adults present in the classroom at the time, she noted.
"Based on the information I have, there were serious questions about the validity of the accusations," LoPreto said.
Abdalla did not talk as he walked out of court Thursday night, but his lawyer said the married father of three has never been arrested before.
Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott visited P.S. 84 Thursday following Abdalla’s arrest, saying “one incident is one too many.”
“When I stopped by the school this morning, I spoke to the principal, staff and some parents and reiterated that if true, behavior like this is unacceptable and I will not tolerate it in our schools,” he added in a statement.
A Department of Education spokeswoman declined to comment Friday, noting the department had yet to receive an official report on the case.
Abdalla, when visited at his Queens home Friday morning, also declined to speak further on the matter.
"I am OK," he said, referring questions to his lawyer.